The New York Times has the story of Oscar Smith, a seven-year veteran of the NYPD’s scuba diving team who’s filed a discrimination complaint against the department for the racially motivated harassment he says he encountered while working. Smith, who is black, says his initial application to join the dive team was turned down because, according to the captain of the unit, “black guys can’t swim.”
Smith says a supervisor repeatedly asked him “how it was that a ‘black man’ could have passed the swim test,”and that the other divers called him Tautog, another name for blackfish. Once, he says, a colleague told him “You could go on a dive op and not wake up — anything could happen.”
In 2013, Smith retired, as harassment had allegedly gotten so bad that he “just couldn’t deal with it anymore.” Police spokesman Stephen Davis says the department has yet to review his complaint.
(Photo: @Sean MacEntee)